One more look at 49ers' fateful decision

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The 49ers' ill-fated decision to run the ball on third-and-6 while attempting to run out the clock against the Vikings in Week 3 invited criticism.

As a former quarterback, Steve Young predictably didn't like the call. He thought the Vikings were going to have enough time remaining to mount a final drive whether or not the 49ers ran or passed the ball. In that case, why not play to win by throwing?

I've broken out every 49ers play this season when the team needed 4 to 6 yards to convert on third down. The team did attempt to pass on a third-and-5 play earlier in the Minnesota game. Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway got immediate pressure and drilled Shaun Hill as the quarterback threw incomplete.

That play and others like it surely stuck in coaches' minds, particularly given that an injury had forced the team's best offensive lineman, left tackle Joe Staley, out of the game. Left guard David Baas had also left the game in the fourth quarter.

If you are a 49ers fan, you're probably looking forward to Sunday so we can make a clean break from Week 3. Hopefully this chart helps put the decision in better context.

The 49ers did have success passing on a third-and-5 play during the fourth quarter of their Week 1 victory at Arizona. The team was trailing at the time, however. Hill completed a 5-yard pass to Isaac Bruce on the play, sustaining the 49ers' 80-yard touchdown drive to take the lead.